According to a 2013 report from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN), around 2 billion people worldwide eat insects as part of a traditional diet – a practice known as entomophagy.
Beetles are the most commonly consumed insect, followed by caterpillars, bees, wasps, ants, grasshoppers, locusts, and crickets. All in all, more than 1,900 insect species are considered edible.
Entomophagy is a common practice in many parts of the world, including China, Africa, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and some developing regions of Central and South America.
In the Western world, however, it seems bugs fail to tickle the taste buds; a study published last year in the Journal of Insects as Food and Feed found that 72 percent of Americans are unwilling to consider eating insects.
According to the FAO report, in the majority of Western countries, “people view entomophagy with disgust and associate eating insects with primitive behavior.”
If you fall into this category, read on; learning about the possible health benefits of insect consumption might just change your mind.
Eating bugs could combat obesity
In fact, the authors of the FAO report claim that insects are just as – if not more – nutritious than commonly consumed meats, such as beef.
Fighting malnutrition with insect consumption
The benefits of entomophagy do not stop at weight loss; the UN say eating insects could help combat malnutrition, which is widespread in developing countries.
According to UNICEF, worldwide, almost half of all deaths among children under the age of 5 years are a result of malnutrition, with most of these deaths occurring in Asia and Africa.
The Defect Levels Handbook from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) shows that when it comes to food products, there is nothing wrong with a bit of bug.
The organization states that it is acceptable for 100 grams of chocolate to contain up to 60 “insect fragments” within six 100-gram samples, while peanut butter can contain up to 30 insect fragments per 100 grams.
Such an allowance shows that, in the most part, insect consumption is not harmful to health.
In fact, researchers claim it is less harmful than eating meat; insects pose a much lower risk of infecting humans with zoonotic diseases than livestock, though it is recommended that insects be cooked prior to consumption to destroy any potentially harmful pathogens they may be carrying.